Friday, June 27, 2014

Trusting, Ever Trusting

Throughout Scripture, the living God bids us trust Him.  Proverbs 3:5 plainly exhorts, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding."  Implied in the term is "special reliance on presumed integrity."

Why is trusting the Creator an ongoing challenge for us?  Two of His attributes apply:

INVISIBLE  "...the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light;  whom no man has seen or can see.  To Him be honor and eternal dominion!  Amen.  (I Timothy 6:15c, 16).
I John 4:12a  "No one has beheld God at any time."
John 1:18  "No man has seen God at any time;  the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him."

Although creation sufficiently manifests His "invisible attributes..." to the point that man is without excuse (Romans 1:20), in His essence He cannot be seen.  And were we not accountable to Him (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13) that would be of little or no concern (as it obviously is for many of the world's unbelievers).  Yet for one who has been called by Him, changed by Him, and for whom He has become the loving focus of life, invisibility presents a challenge.
In order to walk by faith (trust) and not by sight, we must know the living God intimately (Psalm 9:10).  This requires determination, time, and most of all, love.  His Holy Spirit's love poured out into a pure heart is promised the blessed ability to "see God," (Matthew 5:8). Such yearning begets deeper yearning, as He reveals Himself to our eager heart (Psalm 5:3). Over time, as our senses are trained to better discern His ways, as our hearts and minds are saturated with Scripture, as we find Him infallibly faithful, we experience the truth of which Peter wrote, "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory," (I Peter 1:8).

INSCRUTABLE   " 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD.  'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts,' " (Isaiah 55:8,9).

Romans 11:33  "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

Psalm 147:5  "Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength;  His understanding is infinite."

Isaiah 40:28  "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the LORD, the creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable."

We are finite, He is from everlasting to everlasting.  We are born unable to not sin, with a sin nature that precludes being able to think about God aright.  As Proverbs 14:12 puts it, "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."  Thus, it is impossible for the natural man to "figure out" God's ways and doings.
With the change that God accomplishes through salvation in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the regenerated one is graced with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), and the ability to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5).  
One of the first desires upon conversion is to know God's will in any given situation.  The changed heart wants to please the Savior above all else, and submit to His leading.  Bible studies, workshops, conferences, and conventions are attended to learn His will.  Why?  He is Spirit, and rather than understand plainly His movements, we often only discern clues and hints of His directing.  
The two main means He has ordained in the revealing of His will and ways are prayer and the Bible.  Much of our lack of trust (and misplaced trust) stems from neglecting the one and ignoring (or misinterpreting) the other.  Contrary to some teaching, prayer is actually work. Whether we grasp it or not, the enemy knows full well that the greatest threat to his kingdom is the ongoing, fervent, faith-filled praying of God's people.  
The Word reveals His personality, promises, purposes, plans and perspective.   The one whose mind and spirit are satiated with sound doctrine of the Scriptures, who is in continual submission and obedience to its authority, will go far in learning to discern God's determinations, and will have his willingness to trust God deepened immeasurably.

Friday, June 13, 2014


"I am the Light of the world." (John 8:12a)  "You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden."  (Matthew 5:14)

* CONSTANCY  As it does not change, does not move, is immutably stationary, the lighthouse is dependable.  Were its light to move about, emanating from different locations, its value for avoiding danger would be nullified.  Those approaching its harbor during storm and gale must know that the lighthouse has not changed locations.
As the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus is supremely constant.  The writer of Hebrews states that He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," (13:8).  His divine nature (John 10:30; Colossians 2:9) cannot change (Malachi 3:6a), necessitating that His word is true, and that it cannot change, either.  There is great comfort here for the Christian!  With change and deterioration a continual and constant course of our daily living, the truth that our living Lord NEVER changes affords great confidence in His Word's declarations, especially His promises.
By His "precious and magnificent promises" we who've been born from above are "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4), assured that "as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us," (II Corinthians 1:20).  If our Lord were mutable, if He could be altered, then every promise in His Word would lose its dependability, its trustworthiness.   Yet, He IS from everlasting to everlasting, and not one word of all His truth will ever fail!

*  PENETRATING LIGHT  From the time man first ventured out onto the open sea, even to the present, there has been a need for safe navigation back to shore. Storms of every intensity increase this imperative, and especially in darkness.  Without a light to mark the safe harbor, countless lives have been broken and lost on treacherous reefs and rocks.  The simple casting of a strong beam of light across the dark water has served to save numberless mariners from shipwreck at the shore.
The apostle John tells us that the Lord Jesus' life was "the light of men," and that "the light shines in the darkness..." (1:4,5).  From the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, mankind has been in spiritual darkness.  David's testimony is universal: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin did my mother conceive me," (Psalm 51:5).  Sin results in spiritual darkness of the heart (Romans 1:21), as well as spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1). As in His absolute holiness the living God cannot abide sin (Habakkuk 1:13a), judgment against mankind's sin is inevitable: "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil," (John 3:19).  Only as the Lord Jesus reveals Himself as the Light of the world, changing man's sinful nature, is it possible to avoid the shipwreck of judgment.  He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life," (John 5:24).  
Those whom He has changed He calls "the light of the world," (Matthew 5:14), and instructs us to "let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven," (v. 16).  As we are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14) we are to live lives of holiness, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and exhibit His winsome joy that causes others to want an explanation.

*  CONSISTENT CARE    Since lives are at stake, the keeping of the lighthouse is a 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year responsibility.  A non-exhaustive list of the keeper's duties would include:
Light the lamp at sunset and put it out at sunrise.
Fill the lamp with kerosene before every evening. 
Trim the wicks of the lamp so they don’t smoke when lit. 
Clean and polish the Fresnel lens every morning. 
Clean the windows of the lantern room every day.
Shine all the brass in the lighthouse.
Sweep the floors and stairs of the lighthouse every day.
Clean tower windows and sills as needed.
Clean, paint, and repair all buildings on the light station when needed.
Maintain all mechanical equipment at the light station.
Maintain lighthouse log book and record all daily light station activities.
Take weather readings every day and record in log book. 
Weed the walkways and maintain the light station grounds.
Take soundings of river and inlet channels. Move channel markers as needed. 
Lend assistance to ships and sailors in distress as needed. 
Keep an accurate inventory of all light station equipment and fuel. 
Maintain light station launch (boat) and keep in good working order.
Keep boathouse clean, organized, and in good repair at all times. 
Provide visitors with tour of light station as needed. 
Clean keeper dwelling chimneys as needed to prevent fire. 
Do not leave light station at any time without permission.
Clean house on a regular basis and make repairs as needed. 
Keep privy (outhouse/bathroom) clean. Apply lime as needed. 
Stack wood properly in woodsheds. 
Maintain a clean uniform at all times. 
Plant and tend personal garden as needed.*
*Ponce Inlet Light Station (est. 1887) 

With such vigilance involved in attending to a lighthouse, how much more time and attention should we who are followers of the Light of the world give to Him Who is life itself.  Moment by moment we are to be "fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith," (Hebrews 12:2).  Seeing circumstances and people through cleansed lenses (by prayer, confession and repentance), we are to be full of light (Matthew 6:22), daily.  In so doing, we will maintain our gaze upon God, while glancing upon situations.  
May our gracious Lord Jesus make these truths a consistent reality, so that we actually live what we believe.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ephesians 4:14, 15

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, Who is the Head, even Christ."

One of the greatest grievances to God (and, by extension, to those He calls as pastor/teachers) is believers who should be mature but still do not have their senses trained to discern spiritual danger.  Paul knew the intense need for Christians (1) to move beyond gullible immaturity, becoming spiritual adults who are consistently stable; (2) to be alert to the schemes of the enemy; and (3) whose speech is replete with the truth, graciously given.

(1)  Employing nautical imagery, Paul likens the immature Christian to a child adrift upon a storm-tossed sea.  It is an ocean of doctrines, vast and varied, driven by the enemy's spirits for the destruction of the child's faith and testimony.  To be anchored against such forces of drift, to become spiritually grounded in sound doctrine, requires ongoing diligence in study of the Scriptures for the purpose of increasing knowledge of the Lord Jesus (John 5:39).  The greater the saturation of the truth, the greater the sensitivity to the false.  

(2)  Christendom is rife with false teaching and teachers.  As in Paul's day, so today "works righteousness" in a myriad of forms permeates religious life.  The most devastating teaching is not coming from the more obvious doctrine of cults and the like, but from the seemingly-orthodox ministries.  Appealing to Scripture (giving the impression of soundness) interpreted to support their "grace plus" perspective, the false teachers render the cross of Christ needless, point their followers to themselves for authority, and do immeasurable damage to the body of Christ, as they give the false impression that works are necessary for salvation.  

(3)  For good or ill, everyone's mouth speaks from that which fills his heart (Luke 6:45).  That upon which we think, meditate, ponder and dwell will be spoken.  To mature, we must think the truth, speak the truth, and live the truth.  No one produces godly fruit from error. The primary tool God has provided for this life-long quest is His Word (John 17:17), which is to be spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the exposure and silencing of false teachers (Hebrews 4:12; Titus 1:11).  In the delegated authority of our Head (Matthew 28:18), we are to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), speaking Scriptural truth with the sincere desire for our hearers' salvation.  

May our God grant grace to obey His Word, sensitive to His blessed Holy Spirit, as we have opportunity to speak His truth in love.